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If 2023 was super stressful for you, why not arm yourself with some stressbusting methods to ensure that the new year will be all but stressful. Let’s face it, no matter how much you feel like you are in control, nobody is immune to stress. Even the coolest cucumbers among us can find themselves sizzling under unexpected stress. Life is unpredictable and stress can suddenly creep up on you. Whether it’s work, finances, health, or family issues, stress doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can experience stress at any point in their lives. Stress can hit you like a ton of bricks and take a toll on all you hold dear. What better way to be ready for the unpreventable burden than to learn five things you can do right now to reduce stress.
1. Don’t Do Too Much
Ever thought that you might be the one to blame for the stress you are feeling? If you are an overachiever or perfectionist, the pressure you put on yourself might just be a little too much. Look at your daily activities. Are you constantly running around trying to do everything? Do you find yourself thinking there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done that you feel you need to do? If so, hit those breaks like your life depends on it. Realize that it’s ok not to do everything. You don’t have to be “perfect”. Delegate tasks if you can, or do them over time rather than in one day. Plan them out ahead of time over a reasonable period of time. Rome wasn’t built in one day! No one will punish you for not getting it done, so stop punishing yourself!
2. Start Moving More to Reduce Stress
Have you ever wondered “Can exercise reduce stress?” The answer is yes, so stop wondering and start moving. When stress hits, exercise might not be the first thing to come to mind. However, a good sweat session can reduce those feelings of stress and anxiety that you’re feeling. Exercise increases the production of endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are hormones that make you feel good. Why do you think people suffering from depression are encouraged to exercise? It’s all to increase those feel-good hormones. If you need workout inspiration, check out this YouTube video with my workout routine. Several 15 to 20 minute exercise sessions a week can help combat stress. Both cardio and weightlifting are effective. Cardio is my favorite type of exercise, and when I walk out of the gym, I instantly feel much better. I even refer to the gym as ‘therapy’. I love the way it can make you feel. Keep in mind, always consult a doctor before starting an exercise routine, especially if you have pre-existing conditions.
3. Eat and Drink Away your Stress
No this paragraph is not about eating due to stress, it’s more about eating to reduce stress. Combating and managing stress can be as easy as knowing what to eat. There are foods you can eat to fight stress. These foods increase calming serotonin levels in your body while reducing stress inducing adrenaline and cortisol. Some foods to include in a stress management diet are:
- Whole grain pastas, breads, cereals and oat meal. These complex carbohydrates digest slowly and help keep blood sugar levels from spiking.
- Oranges. Eating this fruit rich in vitamin C before a stressful tasks has shown to quickly help reduce the stress hormone cortisol to normal levels.
- Salmon, soybeans, spinach or other green, leafy veggies. These foods all contain magnesium, which can help keep unwanted side effects of stress, such as fatigue and headaches, at bay.
- Lemon balm tea. I swear by this tea and drink it myself during stressful times. Read my blog about lemon balm tea and discover its major benefit to stress relief. I can’t say enough good things about this tea.
- Nuts. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts contain healthy fats that can keep depression and stress at bay. They are high in calories, so make sure not to overeat.
- Fatty fish: Fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout and herring contain Omega-3s, which may reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels and help keep stress at bay.
- Dark chocolate: Eating a piece a day can improve your mood and therefor help keep stress away. This is all thanks to the flavonoids it contains that boost serotonin levels.
4. Sleep Your Stress Away
Are you getting enough sleep? Lack of sleep can be the sole reason why stress keeps getting the better of you. Your body restores itself while you sleep and by not getting sufficient downtime, you’re not allowing it to fully arm you for the day ahead. It’s a catch 22, because stress and sleep are closely related. If you’re stressed, you can’t sleep, yet to be less stressed, you have to sleep more.
When you’re stressed, cortisol levels in your body increase due to the so-called ‘fight or flight’ response that’s activated. This can keep you awake at night or make it hard to fall asleep. For useful tips on how to overcome this and get quality sleep, make sure to check out this blog post.
5. Keep a Journal and Write away Your Stress
Writing down your feelings and thoughts should not be underestimated. It’s not just jotting down notes, it can actually be your secret stress-buster. It can help you process emotions you may be feeling and give you a good gauge on what it is that’s causing you to feel stressed. Writing itself can be therapeutic, and putting your thoughts on paper can be calming and even meditative. You can make journaling as creative and elaborate as you want, but remember, the key to journaling is being honest with yourself. Take a moment every day, every other day, or maybe once a week, and write down what is going on and how you feel about it. Pour your heart out and let your journal be the superhero sidekick. Over time, you can also look back on old journal posts and feel like the champ you are for overcoming those tough, stressful times.
Certainly, numerous strategies exist to conquer stress. If you find persistent challenges, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions contributing to your stress levels. Remember, even if you’re feeling stressed at this moment, there are plenty of practical tips and tricks you can implement to dial down that anxious vibe. You’ve got this!
How do you deal with stress? Don’t be shy — Sound off below.